The shifting roles of the Librarian and the IT Facilitator…

Once upon a time (in what seems like a faraway land, in another lifetime) students went to the computer room and the library for isolated weekly lessons.

When we acquired laptops, the roles of Linda and Fiona, eLearning Facilitator and Librarian respectively, changed. They shifted to flexible timetables, going into classrooms, as required, to deliver specific lessons, team teach or support teachers and students with resources or tech trouble shooting.

This year, every student in Year 4- 6 has their own iPad and it’s clear that the traditional Librarian and eLearning Facilitator roles are shifting again. Resources are at the learners’ fingertips, devices are easy to use and apps are intuitive. It’s evident that iPads, by their very nature, promote inquiry learning. As Linda points out, there’s no need for the e in eLearning any more. And the once distinct roles of librarian and technology teacher have blurred, resulting in a dynamic partnership of overlapping skills and ideas.

In this week’s meeting, I ask the Learning Team Leaders –

What’s the most obvious way to eat these biscuits (cookies)?

With that out of the way, everyone writes down as many other ways as they can think of to eat them. Once we’re past the obvious, the ideas get more creative and, the more time people have to think, the more unusual the ideas they come up with. I love this exercise, borrowed from Heidi Siwak’s recent blog post.

The group notes that-

  • creativity takes time
  • looking at things from different angles helps generate new ideas
  • we need to be prompted to think beyond obvious solutions
  • hearing others’ ideas can spark creative thinking

At this point I ask everyone to think creatively about Linda’s and Fiona’s roles. 

Initiatives already in place

  • Active participation in collaborative planning sessions with teaching teams
  • Curation of online resources to support learning (Netvibes)
  • Working together to develop understanding of how to evaluate online resources
  • Establishment of e-book, audio-book and video-book libraries
  • Responding to teacher needs individually, in groups or whole school sessions as required
  • Leading whole grade level collaborations
  • Expanding the use of blogs to promote global interactions
  • Introduction of Twitter, supporting kids and teachers in developing global PLNs
  • Collaboration with the music teacher, using Garageband
  • Animation (collaboration with the art teacher) and film-making workshops for Y6 PYP exhibition groups

Once we’re ready to spend some time looking beyond the obvious, a range of new ideas are generated.


  • Dropping into classrooms and responding to learners at point of need
  • Introducing new projects for small groups of students
  • Becoming involved with learning in other contexts, such as the kitchen garden
  • Working with individual students on personal passion projects
  • Promoting trans-disciplinary learning by building connections with specialist teachers
  • Helping students define and refine inquiry questions
  • Integrating learning in ever more organic, authentic ways, not isolated out-of-context lessons

What’s next? 

Fiona would like to collaborate with the Art and Music teachers on a unit of inquiry exploring multimodal texts and the way eBooks incorporate video and music.

Linda’s next project is to meet with the new Year 4 and 5 tech minions, see what needs they perceive and develop their program with them accordingly.

We’ve only begun to look at new possibilities and we’d love to hear about how these roles are developing and shifting at your school…

And, while we’re thinking creatively, who else in the school has knowledge and skills that can be drawn upon in new, different and innovative ways?

19 thoughts on “The shifting roles of the Librarian and the IT Facilitator…

  1. Nice! 🙂 I now have two blog posts stuck in ‘Draft’. There seems to be no way for me to publish them off my iPad!! And I don’t have a computer today!

    Sent from my iPad


  2. I loved reading this post! It always amazes me when someone takes an idea (in this case originated by Exhibit Change who are doing interesting work on Design Thinking and education) and further develops and extends it. This is one of the greatest gifts of the internet! We get to witness these shifts. What I found even more fascinating was the flexible attitude of your colleagues and their willingness to reinvent roles. Thanks for sharing this Edna.


    1. Thanks Heidi! Agree about the way ideas are spread, developed, extended and it makes me wonder if those educators who are still not connected can even begin to imagine what they are missing.
      On reinventing roles – I think it’s very important not to be limited by your job description. I’m hoping my colleague Layla will comment here and share what she heard at the Future of Ed Conference last week on that very theme.


    2. This is supremely awesome! It is funny how one little activity can have such an impact. I have been refining our Oreo Cookie Design Thinking activity for nearly 5 years 🙂

      And thanks to the two of you, I am going to be spending even more time thinking about them!



  3. Hello Edna
    I find the ideas of flexible timetable and flexible support roles appealing. I wish that my school could thrash this out and make a shift away from the-support-person-as-release-time-provider. This shift can only happen when we stop thinking of teaching as ‘controlling’ students, and when we stop thinking of learning as a set of cards we hold to our chest and don’t share.
    The wall banner in our Year Two classroom states: ‘There are 25 teachers in this classroom.’ My wonderful learners now have a habit of revising that number when any other person enters the room. Our College Principal was greeted with a shout ’26 now!’ when she popped in last week.
    For me, the Education Assistants are invaluable. They are focused on individual learners, and if I value and seek out their thinking, they enhance my reflection.


    1. Thanks Bette. How are things going in your new setting?’
      Absolutely love your sign and the kids’ attitude towards it. Will share as part of a push to getting teachers to show those cards more and more 🙂


  4. Hi Edna,

    Great blog post. Like the librarian mentioned, I strive to collaborate with staff, in person and/or online, regarding their curriculum needs. Connecting with students and checking their research is easier when the students work in Google Docs and use the @ in front of the email address of the person to whom they are commenting to, in the Comment feature. I am a PYP librarian and my tech Action Plan this year has been to ‘flip’ the library by posting all Reading Programmes activity booklets and activity templates on the Junior School Library Online Catalogue webpage in order for students and parents to complete remotely and at anytime.

    I look forward to reading future posts.
    All the best,


  5. Amazing blog post! My name is Catherine Stalvey and I am an EDM 310 student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange’s class. I believe creativity is the most important tool out there! I was always taught to think in different ways and to find an unusual perspective on different circumstances throughout my life. Your post hit the nail on the head! I love the analogy about ways to eat Oreos-haven’t we all been there? Whether you’re four years of age, or 44 years of age, you never tire of finding new ways to eat those life-changing cookies. Your writing is so easy to read and so relatable, and I honestly enjoyed reading through about 5 of your other entries. You have a gift! Keep it up!


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